How best to handle the Review of the Week section when running a Parents Plus Group?

Facilitator Best Practice Question:

“When running our Parents Plus group, we often find the Review of the Week goes on for much longer than planned. Generally the reason is that we gets loads of specific issues raised by the parents such as getting children to bed on time, mealtime battles etc and we want to respond to their questions and spend group time helping them. Of course this means we often miss out on covering all the Positive Parenting and Discipline topics as suggested in the manual. Do you have any suggestions as to how handle this?”

Answer: “When running a Parents Plus group, the goal is to try and respond to the individual goals and questions of the parents. You want to help them make progress on the reasons that brought them to group so they get the maximum out of it. In addition, responding to their requests is very motivating for them as it makes them feel part of the group and that it can really benefit them. The challenge is fitting all these ‘extra questions and topics’ within the limited group time and making sure it does not mean the parents miss out on ‘core ideas’ that are essential for them (and important in solving the problems they are raising). One solution to this challenge is to reserve a 20 minute problem solving section at the end of group sessions, when you will set aside time to integrate the ideas that were raised and apply them to specific topics. This means you would alter the timing of the group elements according to the table below. This new format will allows you to keep the Review of the Week within a boundary and ensure the core Positive Parenting and Discipline topics are covered. After consultation with the Parents Plus Facilitator Network,this format is proposed to be the standard one in the new editions of our manuals. Below is the suggested steps to implementing the new format in practice: 1) If a parent raises a specific question during the Review of the Week, you have the option of postponing discussion on this. For example, you might say ‘that is an important question, lets set aside some problem solving time for that later.’ 2) It works to keep a flip chart list of all the questions parents raise. You can give this flip chart the friendly title of the ‘Car Park’ – questions are parked here for discussion later. 3) During the 20 minute section at the end of the group, you address one or two of the specific topics using the Parents Plus problem solving model. This is a great way to give parents examples of integrating the ideas from the course and applying them to practical situations. 4) If there are no specific questions in the ‘Car Park’ you can use the time for other important universal important issues such as Parent Self Care or Stress Management”.

John Sharry, CEO Parents Plus